Thread Number: 68386  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Broken shower wall
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Post# 911316   12/15/2016 at 22:21 (305 days old) by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

My parents shower is having issues again. It has tiny little grayish tiles with lots of grout lines over what looks like green drywall. It has rotted out numerous times around the bottom and been patched with cement board. Now it has fallen through again, higher up the wall. The grout looks awful and is impossible to clean well anymore. I suggested they should just rip it all out and back with cement board and large tiles so there is less grout to clean. But they are worried the studs underneath could be rotten or possibly have mold behind the drywall. The tub should probably be replaced as well as the plumbing fixtures. They are afraid to take it apart as it's the only shower in the house and they don't know the extensive of the damage. We removed the access panel on the other side but can't see much through it because it's just a small one.

I think their best bet is to have someone come in that can do all of the work including tile and any drywall repair if necessary.

Any thoughts or experience? The bathroom is 40 years old so it is probably time for a redo. I don't really see any way to patch the tiles at this point especially since the grout in the whole lower part of the shower looks so bad. But they have repaired it many times because of the time restriction in redoing everything.

Post# 911322 , Reply# 1   12/15/2016 at 23:19 (305 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

As you see, you never tile over green-board, bad move by who ever did it.  Odds are the framing might have mold on it, that can be dealt with, but it should be structurally fine, unless there was a bad leak.  Depending on the budget an update may be worth it, minimally just re-tiling around the tub should not be too expensive, depending on the tile used.

Post# 911341 , Reply# 2   12/16/2016 at 07:28 (305 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

they will find out the severity once they tear it all out. Wear breathing masks in case there is black mold.
The studs can be cleaned of it.
I use 1/2 inch Durock or other cement tile backer board. It can be shimmed if needed. Make sure the gap at the shower base or tub is only a max. of 1/4 inch, and the backer board overlaps the lip edge of the fixture. Screw it to the studs.
Mesh tape the seams and screws, and apply a thin layer of thin set mortar over them.
I use latex modified mortar and grout. It is more water resistant. The grout is self sealing also.
Florida is a high humidity state. An 80 cfm bath fan or higher is better than a standard 50 cfm, even for a small bathroom.
Depending on their budget, they can also install an acrylic tub/shower unit.
Many seniors are getting those walk in tubs with doors also.

Post# 911355 , Reply# 3   12/16/2016 at 09:25 (305 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Mike (Vacerator)

panthera's profile picture

Nailed it for you.

A very quick and inexpensive alternative:

The three or five piece shower/tub liners. Their advantage is that you only lose the bathroom for one day.

I'd not worry about the mold overmuch, turns out black mold doesn't cause the harm it was said to - another one of those scares. Just spray everything down with Lysol, thoroughly.


The studs will almost certainly be ok. If not, don't remove, add. Mold and mildew resistant backer board is the way to go - whether it's the blue board drywall or (my strong preference) cement board. The rest Mike told you. Here's a link to the liners - we've done 10+ shower/tubs with them the past few years and had no complaints, just call backs to do another shower in the basement of two of the houses where we'd done the liners.


The link is to an inexpensive one. The sky is the limit and some are so designed you have real trouble telling they're not tile, thick and really well structured.


This post was last edited 12/16/2016 at 11:34
Post# 911363 , Reply# 4   12/16/2016 at 10:35 (305 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Yes Panthera,

My house had a one piece higher end acrylic unit that was installed in the early 90's by the previous owner.
It became very tired looking. I cut it out with my saws all. The edge flanges were embedded in drywall mud to the wall. They also removed the old tile and mud cement on the floor. Not a fan of sheet vinyl after it is worn here.
I'm redoing it all currently. No tub, just a shower. Waiting for the Kohler Salient cast iron base. Also verticyl lavatory basins.
Thinking of going with Capua blanco textured wall tile with Iceland Stria glass and marble accent mosaic tiles and back splash. Fixtures are cashmere grey. Faucets and accessories are Toobi in brushed nickel.
Do you have any preference on shower doors? The Kohler Purist is very pricey, even at a 30% msrp discount. Considering the Basco hinged door system.
I don't want to build a threshold for the shower edge. It is only a 60" by 30" alcove. 72" vanity across from it. Room is that wide at that end, but wider with a second door to bedroom 11 feet down and around a corner from the toilet. It also has a high up 33" wide window at that end.

Post# 911370 , Reply# 5   12/16/2016 at 11:53 (304 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Sounds good

panthera's profile picture

and timeless. I've seen Kohler doors hold up quite well in a friends' house - and she has a constant stream of kids, grandkids and now great-grandkids through there all the time.


Our local Homeless Despot master plumber (the real deal) dislikes the American Standard, says their finishes fail too fast. Only done two Delta doors, both repairs and both times they couldn't have been nicer or faster sending the parts. They, too, seemed to have some finish wear which I haven't seen on Kohler. Just, I've not enough experience to say whether that's due to poor cleaning (like using toilet bowl cleaner) or less than perfect production quality.

Post# 911394 , Reply# 6   12/16/2016 at 15:17 (304 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Thank's just as well

panthera. American Standard was bought by the same Japanese company (Toto I think) that also now owns Grohe. They only offer three colors in fixtures also, white, bisque, and a light grey.
I'm thinking for my floor, the Decape wood grained porcelain tile in light greyish blue, but not sure.
The vanity will be a russette toned medium cherry with bead board door centers and flush drawers.
I also haven't yet decided on a quartz counter top which will be 35" high with undermounted basins.

Post# 911410 , Reply# 7   12/16/2016 at 16:53 (304 days old) by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

foraloysius's profile picture
Once again your facts are wrong. That happens too often. Check your facts before you start writing. A simple Google search shows that Grohe and American Standard are owned by the Lixil Group. We want the information on this site to be correct so that others can rely on that. You are not a reliable source. So please stop the guessing and blabbing.

Post# 911411 , Reply# 8   12/16/2016 at 16:55 (304 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

My friend Sam & his family just had this problem fixed in the house they rent. The landlord put in a 3-piece surround.

Post# 911423 , Reply# 9   12/16/2016 at 17:53 (304 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

did I not parenthesis (Toto I think)? That was what my dealer told me and they sell all of the above. I stated Grohe and American Standard are owned by the same holding co. Last decade, American Standard was owned by Bain Capital, and was outsourced to Mexico.
Maybe the Toto concern owns Moen I'll research it again.
The way companies are sold anymore who can keep up, and Wikipedia is not always 100% accurate.
Have you ever heard of La Toscana?

Post# 911433 , Reply# 10   12/16/2016 at 19:04 (304 days old) by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

They had thought of installing a surround but there is a window in the shower, which would really be a shame to just remove. It really makes the bathroom feel brighter and roomier. It also appears some of the drywall outside of the shower has gotten wet at some point as the texture is bubbly. I suspect it may need to be cut back a bit as well.

Also there is a fan in the bathroom but it hasn't been working in some time.

I think it would help if the fan was perhaps installed closer or over the shower. Maybe one with a light on it. The current one has a light but it's installed more toward the sink and the hole would need to be patched if it was moved. We did not notice a big difference in the humidity levels when it was running, even with the door cracked. It was noisy and the vibration seemed to reverberate through the ceiling so they did not run it long after showering.

Post# 911442 , Reply# 11   12/16/2016 at 20:18 (304 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Boy, this sounds like fun. Not.

panthera's profile picture

If you don't mind my two cents, here's what I'd do:

1) Get the fan problem solved. Until the air is moving, everything else is for naught.

2) Nearly all liners (even the inexpensive ones for around $100) also have window kits. It's no big deal, easy to do and let's you keep the window/light/air while getting the job done in one day.

3) Unless the bathroom is the size of a football field, it's more important that their be no standing air pockets than that the fan be right over the shower. Personally, I always cringe when one is directly over the shower - and won't take on the job unless an electrician has GFCI'd the damn thing. I mean, electricity and flowing water and wet, naked people and copper here there and everywhere - what could possibly go wrong?

Post# 911446 , Reply# 12   12/16/2016 at 20:50 (304 days old) by luxflairguy (Sumas, WA)        

Nutone make makes several UL approved fans for in the shower.  This duplex for instance has inside bathrooms.  Both on the small side.  We used a HVAC consultant for all air movement aspects of construction.  He did the calculations of air tightness, overall moisture levels of our climate and bathroom habits.  He said no matter what, 50 cfm was too little and that between 80 and 100 cfm would be great.  We choose the 100 cfm fans.  Uber quiet and fast clearing of air.  The biggest thing he said to remember is how many times  overall the air in the bathroom changes fro damp to dry.  Nutone/Broan even has one or two humidity sensing fans, too. Greg

Post# 911448 , Reply# 13   12/16/2016 at 21:01 (304 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Pardon my butting in, but at this point you might actually tell them to go spend a day or two at at hotel/motel, remove all the drywall in the bathroom, put a new tub/surround and discard that fan and the (very probably) plastic duct to the outside, put a good fan with a proper galvanized duct (like the stuff they use for forced air/AC) straight out to the outside.

If the drywall has been getting old and damp, it's easier to remove it and all the insulation, and replace everything. Yes, it will be more expensive, but you'll get everything done once and right instead of piecemeal as things fall apart.

I'm often surprised how often in America we can't seem to have time/money to do things right (the deadline was two weeks ago and we're just told about it), but we can always do things twice and pay even more than it would cost to do it right once.

I suppose that doing things right once is not nearly a good story to tell people than "we had to do it *3* times, you would not believe what the contractors did", when we fail to also say that we should have clicked to the fact that those were very low bids for work that we should have seen was obviously not good enough.

Good luck!

Post# 911451 , Reply# 14   12/16/2016 at 21:27 (304 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I'm well aware that such fans are

panthera's profile picture

Made and I remain convinced that what isn't there to fail can't fail.

Clearly, you're right about proper dimensioning the fan and the need for proper ducting.


Still and all, it's better to do the job right, once than to keep on fighting with it. 

Post# 911463 , Reply# 15   12/17/2016 at 06:19 (304 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Yes, do it right the first time

and eliminate problems later on.
I would not remove the window. It's good ventilation, and light. With good light darker colors can be used if desired. Mold also does not thrive in lighted places well. In my first house, I put in a glass block window with a vent in the shower.
Homes in Florida have or had a lot of jealousy windows. I think they look cool, and offer some privacy. Up here, everything is double glazed or triple pane for heat loss prevention.
Also a note on fan ducting; Braun offers an 80 cfm model with a standard 3 inch duct. Most from Nutone or Braun above 80 cfm use a 4 or a 6 inch duct.
The paint used matters also. Flat paint absorbs moisture. Use a satin or even a semi gloss on the bathroom and shower ceiling. Satin on the walls also.
Any bathroom can have some condensation above the shower area.

Post# 911590 , Reply# 16   12/18/2016 at 06:28 (303 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Oh, Louis,

as with Luxflair, I won't bother you anymore.

Post# 915655 , Reply# 17   1/14/2017 at 14:22 (275 days old) by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

Just an update. My parents are still looking into this, my mother mentioned she looked at showers at Home Depot and Lowes, I am guessing she means surrounds. She mentioned a while back about having another half bath built on the opposite side of the wall, not sure they will go that far.

Also can anyone recommend what are good faucets these days? The shower/tub has a Moen single handle that has lasted 40 years with no problems, other than a new spout and shower head. The old sink faucet was a Peerless and they replaced it with an American Standard when they got a new solid surface counter top/sink 10 years ago. It still works fine but the counter top pools water around the faucet which has damaged the finish.

The cabinets are ok, but the vanity and recessed wall cabinet behind door were custom so can't be replaced easily. They look ok so probably fine to keep.

Post# 915658 , Reply# 18   1/14/2017 at 14:41 (275 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I always buy Delta.  Parts are always available and when I've had a problem they fixed it quickly and without cost to me.  That is all I can ask of a company.

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